Germany’s Hokkaido Kürbis Obsession: How Deutschland Fell in Love with a Japanese Squash
Recipes History Germany’s Hokkaido Kürbis Obsession: How Deutschland Fell in Love with a Japanese Squash

It’s hard to miss Hokkaido Squash season in Germany, with special menus and all the farmers' markets and vegetable stands piled high with the popular red-orange “Hokkaido Squash.” Wait, hold on… Hokkaido? That’s a region in Japan. And all the squash and pumpkins are new-world vegetables, anyway. So how the heck did Germany make the Hokkaido pumpkin its own? Our food history on the Hokkaido Kürbis takes us back to the 1500s, when the Portugese brought south and central-American pumpkins back to Europe.

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5 Make-Ahead Mixes to Rescue Your Busy Weekday Dinners
Recipes 5 Make-Ahead Mixes to Rescue Your Busy Weekday Dinners

When I have a little time on a Sunday and I know I’m going to have a particularly busy week coming up, I start thinking about a few little make-ahead projects that help to move dinner along more quickly or turn a basic dish into something a little more special. With just a small amount of advance preparation, I’ve found that reaching for few little jars can be fairly miraculous when I’m pressed for time.

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Chicken Soup 5 Ways

Through an error in calculation, I robbed ya’ll of a soup post last week. Mea culpa. I make good today. So we’re aware there’s more than one way to pluck a chicken… or make a chicken soup, for that matter. In addition to making a supremely simple homemade chicken soup from a rotisserie bird, I’m offering up five inspirations from points across the globe on ways to make that satisfying bowl of chicken-soup comfort entirely different.

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Recipes Food history Recession Proof: Rumsford’s Soup

If you read much food writing, you may have encountered writer MFK Fisher’s notes on thrifty cuisine. In her 1942 recession-proof tome, How to Cook a Wolf she wrote of an inexpensive, nutritious meat-grain subsistence loaf (writer Jeffrey Steingarten later taste-tested that very recipe in The Man Who Ate Everything). But far earlier than that, in the late 1700s, a remarkably multi-talented scientist/inventor named Benjamin Thompson (later known as Count von Rumford) was also interested in nutritious subsistence food, which led him to the creation of Rumford Soup.

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Resolution #1: Better Brown Bagging

Get to (or stay at) a healthy weight. Enjoy variety. Save money. Control what goes into your body. Feel more organized. These are just a few of the many tasty benefits wrapped up in the resolution to pack more delicious lunches to take to work. Truth is, I’ve known all the terrific reasons to pack lunch for quite some time, but I’ve never quite been able to put the plan in action.

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Day 23: Christmas Gumbo
Recipes Day 23: Christmas Gumbo

*This post marks Day 23 of Miss Ginsu’s 2008 Advent Calendar. In my neighborhood, ‘tis the season of the big carp slaughter. Apparently it’s traditional for Polish folks to eat fresh carp for Christmas (part of the traditional “fish on holy days” tradition, no doubt) so the fishes are currently swimming about in cold-water pools waiting to be chopped up for dinners across the ‘hood. Likewise, in Italy, southern folks celebrate the feast of the seven fishes over the holidays.

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Recession-Proof Recipes: Apple-Bacon Chowder
Recession-Proof Recipes: Apple-Bacon Chowder

As economic worries become yet worse and more frightening, what could be a better Recession-Proof Recipe this week than a soothing cup of chowder? Comforting, delicious, endlessly flexible and — oh yes! quite economical — chowder is warm, filling and there for you when the economy is tanking and your savings are sad and wilted. We talked about Classic Manhattan and New England Chowder last January, but now that the season of summer corn is on the wane and the season of autumnal apples is on the rise, it seems appropriate to think about a combination of apples, corn and a few bits of smoky bacon or ham.

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Recipes The Problem with Chickpea Masala

You know what the biggest problem with my Chickpea Masala is? It smells great. It tastes wonderful. It looks… homely. Oh, sure. I can toss some chopped cilantro or some parsley over the top of it. But come on… that’s just putting lipstick on a pig. (Or is that a dog? Who knows these days?) But we can say with certainty that curry is really not a photogenic dish. This is really the problem with all the bowl-foods.

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The Mysteries of Tomato-Watermelon Gazpacho
Recipes The Mysteries of Tomato-Watermelon Gazpacho

I’ve known those who salt their watermelon, and those who sugar their tomatoes. I once thought these practices were madness. After culinary school, I become more flexible in my appreciation of these summer flavors. Yes, watermelon could get along happily in a savory salad. Yes, tomatoes could represent the sweet aspect of a dish. Once I’d gotten past the prejudices of my youth, I learned that tomatoes and watermelon could be great friends in salads.

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Recipes Recession-Proof: Bahn Mi Sandwiches

One of the first food adjustments people consider during downmarket days are meats. Like eggs and dairy products, meat is one of those commodities that shows an immediate rate jump. Those Porterhouses and T-bone steaks start looking mighty dear. And you’ll also note that the traditional foods of most cultures tend to embrace “scrap” meat and cheaper cuts. Ground meat, sausages, scrapple, haggis, cured belly bacon, tougher cuts long-stewed to tenderize… these are the foods of the commoners.

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About Me

Miss Ginsu is a nom-nom-nom de plume of Leitha Matz, who worked at Tabla and FreshDirect in NYC, wrote about the food scene from 2004 to 2009 in Brooklyn and presently lives in Berlin. Occasionally seen on TV cooking segments, Leitha has also written for FreshDirect, contributed to Cee Cee Berlin, The Food52 Cookbook and has been interviewed/quoted in The Food Keeper as well as The Washington Times and Salon.

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